Today’s special guest author is Pamela Taylor to chat with me about her new historical fiction, Pestilence.
An avid reader of historical fact and fiction throughout her life, Pamela finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. A history major in college, with minors in French and Spanish, she is also a classically trained musician and believes this has given her a special feel for the rhythm, dynamics, and phrasing of the written word.
In addition to creating her own stories, Pamela is active in multiple writing communities. She is a member of the DFW Writers Workshop and is in her fourth year on the Judges Panel for the Ink & Insights Writing Contest. In 2018, she joined the team at DIY MFA where she writes the Historical Fiction column, “Past Perfect.” She is also a freelance editor and a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
She shares her home with two Pembroke Welsh Corgis who frequently remind her that a dog walk is the best inspiration for that next chapter.
Welcome, Pamela. Please tell us about your current release.
Pestilence is Volume 3 of the Second Son Chronicles. The series is set in the early days of the Renaissance, when new ideas were beginning to emerge. The protagonist, Alfred, is the second son of the second son of the king; so he’s not particularly close to the succession and believes his life will be spent in routine service to the monarch. His grandfather, however, foresees for him a special, if somewhat mysterious, destiny. The series follows Alfred’s journey to discover that destiny. Each book in the series can stand alone and readers can begin at any point.
In Pestilence, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother, John, has become king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown in the kingdom for over two hundred years. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. Find out in this book what choices Alfred will have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear.
What inspired you to write this book?
It all started when the first paragraph of Volume 1 came to me in the middle of one of those nights where you’ve waked up and can’t get back to sleep. I didn’t really know if it would go anywhere, but I decided to find out. Once Alfred got into my head and started telling his story, it soon became clear there was more than one book. So the series was born, and Alfred is still telling his story. There are currently six volumes planned.
Excerpt from Pestilence:
My beloved son,
If you are reading this, then you know that I have taken no steps to alter the succession. Whether that will be my conscious decision or whether fate will intervene to take that decision from my hands is unknown as I write this. Perhaps that is for the best, for it frees me to say the words that are in my heart and in my mind, unencumbered by any foreknowledge of what may transpire.
As I look at the familiar handwriting, tears well in my eyes, causing the words on the page to blur. No less a blur are the events of the past week. It’s hard even to remember that a mere nine days ago I was enjoying a pleasant holiday with family and friends at my parents’ country manor. It’s still difficult to take in the fact that, despite all our efforts, Ralf has taken his vengeance by taking my father’s life.
For one thing I’m grateful – that I was there at the end and that he knew I was holding his hand as he passed into the next world. After he took his last breath, the silence in the room seemed to last an eternity. No one moved for a very long time. Finally, the bishop had no choice. He stepped to the side of the chair where I sat next to my father’s bedside. Placing his hand on my shoulder and looking across the bed at my uncle Rupert, he said very quietly, “I have no special instructions.”
In our tradition, the king’s will is lodged with the bishop for safekeeping in the vaults of the church. A king may specify the succession for two generations in his will. If he does so, he provides the bishop with a separate document of special instructions to be read and acted upon before the next king is declared. If he doesn’t, the rules of primogeniture apply.
The bishop stepped back to the head of the bed and turned to address the room. Quietly, but with great authority, he intoned those dreadful words of transition. “The King is dead.” Then, looking directly at my elder brother, John, “Long live the King.” Rupert and I each made our way to the new king and delivered the ancient pledge of loyalty.
A state of affairs that so many had tried and so much had been done to forestall was now upon us. My brother is ill-suited by temperament, intellect, and attitude to be king – a fact of which we were all reminded as we watched his response to the bishop’s words and our pledges. He held his head high, looking down his nose to accept our pledges rather than deigning to bend his neck. His chest puffed out like a peacock seeking a mate . . . so much that one could easily imagine the tail feathers fanned out in grandiose display behind him.
He then gave the bishop what seemed to me a rather menacing look. Undaunted, the bishop moved slowly to the door that exits into the private reception room where the lords of the kingdom were gathered. Opening the door, he once again intoned those fateful words, and John walked into the outer room, followed by the rest of us. At almost the same instant, the opposite door opened and Gwen, my wife, rushed to my side, followed by Richard, one of my four great friends since childhood, all sons of hereditary lords of the realm. Richard and Laurence are heirs to the Devereux and Montfort domains, respectively. Phillip has already become Lord Thorssen, his father having perished alongside King Harold when their party was mistaken for the advance guard of a rebel force during an unfortunate expedition in the Kingdom Across the Southern Sea. Alone among my mates, Samuel Ernle will never be a lord, being the third son in his father’s large family; but he’s distinguished himself in the knighthood, most recently as Captain of the King’s Own Guard.
The lords made their pledges, which John accepted with the same haughty demeanor he’d shown to me and our uncle. “Devereux,” he addressed the first lord of the realm in a commanding tone. “We’ll have the funeral two days hence and the coronation the day after.”
Lord Devereux couldn’t suppress his look of complete astonishment. “With all due respect, Your Grace,” he began.
And then my mother completely lost her composure – something I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in my entire life. “Nooooooooo,” she wailed, running to John and beating on his chest with her palms. “No, no, no, no, no. You can’t do that. He was your father. He was our king. He deserves your respect.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, the remaining volumes of the series, of course. But beyond that, I’m starting to explore some other ideas: the events surrounding the deposing of Edward II of England, an unfinished early draft set in the Channel Islands during the German Occupation, and something involving the Seigneurs of Sark. Time will tell which, if any, turn out to be viable.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing things for so long during my corporate career that I couldn’t even begin to tell you when that happened – it just sort of crept in. But I know precisely when I began considering myself a novelist – it was the day I got the contract offer from my publisher for the first book.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wear quite a few hats these days: novelist, freelance editor, reader, purveyor of pet treats and toys, and pet parent. Before Covid-19, I was also taking lessons to learn to play the pipe organ and am looking forward to the time when I can get back to that. The variety keeps my mind stimulated and my ideas fresh. Since I’m no longer in a corporate career, I’m in charge of my own schedule, which makes it much easier to be sure each hat gets its fair share of time.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I edit as I go – I’m a real stickler for getting things as close to “right” as possible the first time through. That doesn’t mean I don’t go back and make revisions – that seems always to be necessary. But I nitpick my own writing every step of the way.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t actually know. Even when I went to college, I didn’t quite know what kind of career I might want, and where I finally ended up – in the software industry – wasn’t even a “thing” at the time. So I suppose I was fortunate to be in the right place with a suitable education when opportunity presented itself.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you enjoy Alfred’s story as much as I’m enjoying bringing it to life. If you do, then perhaps you might be willing to leave a rating or a review on Goodreads or Amazon or wherever you do such things. I truly value support from readers.
Thanks for being here today!
— Readers, to learn more about Pamela and her writing, check out her other Blog Tour stops
June 22nd @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch of Pamela Taylor’s blog tour for her book Pestilence. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win the first three books in her series “The Second Son Chronicles.”
(TODAY) June 23rd @ Lisa Haselton’s Review and Interviews
Stop by Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.
June 24th @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog
Visit Rebecca’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post discussing the allegory (themes) embedded in the narrative of Pestilence specifically and the Chronicles generally.
June 25th @ A.J. Sefton’s Blog
Visit A.J. Sefton’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
June 26th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog today and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about getting historical details accurate.
June 27th @ Storeybook Reviews
Join Leslie today as she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about her life with corgis.
June 28th @ Reading is My Remedy
Visit Chelsie’s blog today and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
June 29th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about the authors and books that inspired the creation of the Chronicles.
June 30th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf
Visit Veronica’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about the trap of linguistic anachronism – getting the language and word usage right for historical narratives.
July 1st @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog
Visit Rebecca’s blog again and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 2nd @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 3rd @ What is that Book About?
Visit Michelle’s blog today and you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 5th @ The New England Book Critic
Visit Vickie’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 6th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 7th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog
Join Fiona Ingram today when she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about data encryption in ancient times.
July 8th @ Bev A. Baird
Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 9th @ To Write or Not to Write
Visit Sreevarsha’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 10th @ Thoughts in Progress
Visit Mason Canyon’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about deriving details for your setting from historical maps.
July 11th @ Books & Plants
Visit Ashley’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 11th @ A Darn Good Read
Join Yvonne as she reviews Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 14th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 15th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about period-appropriate names for characters.
July 17th @ Books & Plants
Visit Ashley’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about ways to do historical research.
July 18th @ Bookworm Blog
Stop by Anjanette’s blog today where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence. Plus you can read an interview with the author!
July 20th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 24th @ Medievalists
Stop by Medievalists where you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.
July 25th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Stop by Linda’s blog today and read her extensive interview with author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.
July 25th @ Reading in the Wildwood
Join Megan today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.